MLB power rankings

By Shawn Ramsey

Records through Monday, April 8.

1 Giants 4-3

Tim Lincecum struggled mightily last season. Hopefully Matt Cain won’t follow in his steps after getting tagged with nine earned runs right after receiving their World Series rings.

2 Braves 6-1 +5

This team has it all: A great lineup led by the Upton brothers paired with a solid pitching staff that has the capability to dominate anyone it faces. It might be early, but these Braves will be a tough out in the NL East.

3 Reds 5-2 +3

Last year’s NL Central champions are picking up right where they left off with last year’s 97-win season. The Reds took two of three from both the Nationals and Angels, two of the offseason most-hyped teams.

4 Dodgers 4-2 +1

Clayton Kershaw is a nightmare for opposing lineups, two starts, two shutouts. Don’t forget about Zach Greinke, who pitched a gem in first outing in Dodger blue. Expect this one-two punch to give teams fits all season long.

5 Nationals 4-2 -2

The Nats started strong after only allowing one run in their first three games against Miami. Led by young star Bryce Harper, who is looking like he will avoid a sophomore slump, the lineup is showing to be one of the league’s best.

6 Tigers 3-3 -2

Along with several other team’s aces on Sunday, Justin Verlander struggled in his second outing of the season — against the Yankees. The Tigers have stumbled out of the gates with bullpen problems, prompting a signing of former closer Jose Valverde, who led the AL with 49 saves two years ago.

7 Cardinals 3-4 +2

The Redbirds sent a strong message storming into San Francisco spoiling the World Series champions’ celebration by flexing offensive muscle. Never count out the Cardinals. They just know how to win, no matter who is on the roster.

8 Rangers 5-2 +3

Things aren’t looking too bad in Texas after fading away at the end of last season. Yu Darvish nearly pitches a perfect game in his season debut, and the offense is looking as strong as ever despite the absence of Josh Hamilton and Michael Young.

9 Athletics 5-2 +1

The A’s started the season rough with back-to-back losses but came back looking like last year’s gritty team that made its surprising run to the postseason. Of course, sweeping the free-swinging Astros will make any pitching staff look good.

10 Angels 2-4 -8

This probably isn’t the start the Angels expected with their new-look lineup with Josh Hamilton making his reunion tour at the Reds and Rangers. The games have been close, but the Halos have to find a way to win games against divisional opponents to come out on top in the tough AL West.

11 Diamondbacks 5-2 +6

Starting the season hot is always great, but can the D-backs keep up the momentum to possibly dethrone the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West? Perhaps so, but the starting pitching has room to improve to match the hot bats in the lineup.

12 Orioles 3-4 +1

Chris Davis made history hitting four home runs in four consecutive games to start the season, but unfortunately the O’s lost Brian Roberts for 3-4 weeks with a ruptured tendon.

13 Red Sox 5-2 +7

The new-look Red Sox are looking good so far this season. Will Middlebrooks and his three home runs against the Blue Jays on Sunday is making up for the absence of David Ortiz in the lineup.

14 White Sox 4-2 +2

Chicks dig the long ball … and strong pitching. The Southsiders are relying on home runs paired with the best ERA in the American League to jump out to a good start this season.

15 Blue Jays 2-4 -7

After a hyped offseason, the Blue Jays underperformed in their first week. R.A. Dickey has hardly looked like last year’s NL Cy Young winner, taking back-to-back losses to open the season.

16 Rays 3-4 -2

David Price had one of his worst days on the mound, getting rocked by the Indians on Sunday. The reigning AL Cy Young winner will have pressure than to perform well after the Rays traded away their other big starter, James Shields, in the offseason.

17 Phillies 2-5 -5

For a team that is supposed to have arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball, the Phillies’ pitching has performed poorly as a whole, with the exception of Cliff Lee who dazzled in his season debut against the Braves.

18 Rockies 5-2 +4

Could these be the real Rockies? Only time will tell, but they are looking hot, using excellent hitting and pitching to start the season. Sure, their opponents have been the beat-up Brewers and unremarkable Padres, but who is really looking at that?

19 Twins 4-3 +6

On paper, the Twins should have a worse record after the first week of the season facing off against the Tigers and Orioles. Yet they found a way to take two of three from each.

20 Indians 3-4 -1

The Tribe looked liked they drew the short straw having to take on both of last year’s Cy Young winners in first week of the season. Justin Masterson didn’t feel that way, rising to the occasion in taking down David Price and R.A. Dickey in spectacular fashion.

21 Royals 4-3 +2

The Royals have found a way to win their games this season. It hasn’t been pretty for the pitching staff, but it has been getting the job done. Plus, it always helps when Billy Bulter mashes out seven RBI in a game.

22 Mets 5-2 +4

Even though naming someone in lineup other than David Wright might be a hard task for the average fan, these Mets have been hitting well after one week. If they can keep it up, they could be a pleasant surprise in the Big Apple.

23 Yankees 3-4 -5

The banged-up Yankees have to rely on their pitching while several star hitters are on the bench, but unfortunately they are off to a slow start. In this season’s packed AL East, every win counts in what could be a close race for the division crown.

24 Brewers 2-5 -9

The bullpen has been the Achilles heel for the Brewers dating back to last season. Ron Roenicke maintains John Axford is still the closer, but it will be interesting to see how long that will last.

25 Mariners 4-4 +2

Michael Morse has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise struggling offense. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have been pitching well, but even the best pitchers need some runs scored behind them to be successful.

26 Cubs 2-5 -2

Carlos Marmol has already been removed from the closer role after a disastrous start for him and the rest of the bullpen. The offense isn’t producing either, but at least the Cubs have shown some strong starting pitching.

27 Pirates 2-5 -6

Could this be the year the Pirates finally finish above .500? If they keep playing like they are, it would be hard to avoid the cellar in the NL Central, much less finish with a winning record for the first time in 21 years.

28 Padres 1-5

Ace Edinson Volquez was shelled in his first two starts, and the offense is right back to its usual woes, hitting just one home run in the first six games to start the season. No pitching and no hitting could mean a long season for the Padres.

29 Marlins 1-6 +1

Twenty-year-old Jose Fernandez made history becoming the youngest Marlins starter in the team’s history, posting a scoreless debut against the Mets. It’s just too bad the bullpen couldn’t hold it down so he could earn his first win.

30 Astros 1-6 -1

New uniforms, new league, new division; same Astros. After notching a big Opening Day win over the Rangers, Houston has fallen flat, and strikeouts continue to pile up at an alarming rate.